The day before Jesus fed 5000 with five loaves and two fish. The next day the crowds come back looking for Jesus and find him across the sea in Capernaum. But Jesus knows their hearts and declares that they only reason they seek him was not because they saw the signs and comprehended, but because they wanted their bellies fed. They have come for Jesus to satisfy their physical desires and needs. Jesus commands them to work for the food that does not perish. Put your efforts not in the physical desires of life but on Jesus that offers eternal life. Believe in the one who is giving the life you need. This is where we pick up in our story, at John 6:30.
Demanding Christ’s Service (6:30-33)
After Jesus calls for the people to believe in him as the means for eternal life, the people seem to want some clarity. 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” (John 6:30–31 ESV)
Now we need to think about what happened the day before. Jesus, with only five loaves and two fish, fed 5000 men, not counting women and children. They demand a sign so that they will believe in Jesus. I want you to consider the spiritual darkness of the hearts of these people. They are not asking legitimately so that they are not mislead into following a false Messiah. This is just another way for the people to get what they want out of Jesus. We see this in their quotation of the scriptures in verse 31. What the people are saying is that Moses gave the people food to eat every day for 40 years. Moses provided manna every day. If Jesus is the new deliverer and savior of the people, then the least he can do is feed them every day with bread from heaven like Moses did. It can even be argued that they would expect something greater than what Moses did since he claims to be the Son of God. But if you are the new Moses (remember John 6:14 that the people are rightly understanding Jesus to be the Prophet that Moses declared would come and be their deliverer), then you should at least do this for us.
Jesus has a response to this attempt at manipulation. There are many observations to make in verse 32. First, Moses did not give you the bread. The Father was the giver of the bread, not Moses. Second, notice that Jesus does not say that it was not Moses who gave you the bread but my Father gave you the bread. The shift goes to the present tense. It was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven but my Father gives you bread. Bread is presently being offered now. Moses did not give you the bread then, but my Father gives you the bread now. Third, this bread is the true bread. This is the genuine bread from heaven. What Moses gave you was not the genuine, true bread from heaven. The true bread was not the manna in the wilderness. But what my Father gives you today is the true bread from heaven. Verse 33 tells us that this bread gives life to the world. This is why Jesus calls it the true bread. It is not for keeping one’s body alive like what happened in the wilderness when manna came from heaven and fed the people everyday for their physical bodies. This bread that comes from heaven that is being offered to the people now is the bread that gives life to the world. Notice that it does not merely give life to Israel, which is another contrast to the manna in the wilderness. This bread which gives life is offered to the world. Notice carefully verse 33 that the bread of God “is he who comes down from heaven.” Jesus speaks about himself and declares that he gives life to the world. Jesus is offering something far greater and far superior to what Moses was offering in the wilderness.
I Am The Bread of Life (6:34-36)
In verse 34 the people respond to this declaration: “Give us this bread always.” They don’t get it. We should not be surprised because throughout this gospel we have noticed the spiritual blindness of every person that Jesus has encountered. We saw this in chapter 4 with the woman at the well who wanted the water that Jesus was offering so she would not have to come to the well every day and draw water. The crowd wants this bread every day that Jesus is offering so that they can be physically fed by doing nothing. This is the reason the crowd came after him the next day after the sign of the 5000 being fed. They are so dull, so materialistic, so self-centered, and so shallow in their thinking, just like us.
Jesus now explicitly explains himself and what he is offering to these spiritually dull people, who are just like us in dullness and darkness. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” This is the first of seven “I am” statements to follow in this gospel. Jesus has been sent by God as manna descended into the desert. Verse 35 is a critical teaching that we need to center ourselves upon. Jesus tells us what it means to believe in him. Notice that the two phrases are paralleled: “whoever comes to me” and “whoever believes in me.” Coming to Jesus is the same as believing in Jesus. Now here is why this is important. These people have come to Jesus, haven’t they? It seems so. They have crossed the sea to find Jesus. But we have already noted in our study that they are not truly coming to Jesus. They are coming for bread. “Coming to Jesus” is not to come to him for what he gives. You come to Jesus because he is the bread of life.
Jesus is your bread
This is second key point of this teaching. Notice that Jesus does not say that he gives bread to eternal life. Jesus says that he is the bread. He is not the giver of the bread, but he is the bread of life. Jesus is the bread given by the Father to the world. The point that we made last week comes back into our minds in this text. The people were coming to him for what he gives, not because of who he is. Those who believe in him come to him, not to what is gives. Those who believe see Jesus as the bread of life. For Jesus to call himself the bread is everything to what Jesus wants us to learn. For Jesus to be the bread of life means that we will come to him as our satisfaction. We will not come to him to satisfy our desires. We will come to him because who he is satisfies. Think about this: the only time we are comfortable is when we are not hungry or thirsty. When we are hungry or thirsty then we are uncomfortable to the point that we get up and do something about it. Consider what Jesus is saying. “Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in men shall never thirst.” I am only comfortable when Jesus is my bread. I am only at rest when Jesus is my satisfaction. Nothing compares to him. Money, family, power, lust, health, desires, or anything else compares to Jesus. You will fail to find satisfaction anywhere else. Jesus came to be your bread and for you to come to him as your bread. Everyone was made to be satisfied by Jesus.
These people did not come to Jesus for the right reason. They did not see Jesus as the bread of life. Let me state in another way what I believe Jesus is teaching. It is the same teaching point that was made to Nicodemus and the woman at the well. Saving faith is being satisfied in Jesus for everything. Being saved is being satisfied in Jesus before everything. We do not live for the bread of this world. It is not true bread. This is exactly what Isaiah pictured.
1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. (Isaiah 55:1–3 ESV)
Nothing in this world offers satisfaction. It is all a lie. Jesus is all-satisfying. Jesus is truly bread and he is offering himself for free to you. Stop laboring for the bread that perishes. Your joy is in Christ alone! These people saw Jesus but they did not see Jesus. They saw but it did not cause belief. They did not experience transformation of heart, mind, and life. The crowd has witnessed the divine revealer at work, but only their curiosity, appetites, and political ambitions have been aroused, not their faith.
Receiving Life (6:37-40)
Jesus now explains what is happening and we will conclude this lesson with verses 37-40. Twice Jesus says that all the Father gives Jesus will come to him. Jesus says this in verse 37 and in verse 39. “All that the Father has given me will come to me.” All that the Father has is given to the Son. What is the point? Therefore, if you are the Father’s then you come to the Son. If you belong to the Father, then you will come to the Son. Or, to put it to the ears of this crowd that Jesus is speaking to: since you do not come to me, then you do not belong to the Father because the Father has given them all to me. These Jews could not claim any allegiance or life in God because they were not coming to Jesus. They do not belong to the Father since they are not coming to Jesus as their bread of life.
Listen to the confidence and encouragement that Jesus gives in these verses. Those who see Jesus as their bread of life Jesus will never cast out. Jesus has come to do the will of the Father and it is the Father’s will that he lose nothing that has been given to him. The Son does not drive away anyone who will come to him. He will not refuse you. He will not cast you out by force (6:37). The Greek word translated “cast out” is the same word used to describe Jesus powerfully cast out demons from people. It is also the same word Jesus used concerning those being cast out of the kingdom. Jesus declared that many would come from the east and the west to recline with him at the banquet table of the kingdom of God. However,
“The sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12).
But those who come to Jesus will not be cast out. There is security and confidence when we come to Jesus. God’s will is that we are not lost, which was one of the points of the sign. Remember that none of the fragments were lost at the command of Jesus. God’s will holds us secure.
Who are those who have been given to Jesus? Verses 39-40 tells us. Notice these two verses are parallel statements. In verse 39 we read “the will of him who sent me” and in verse 40 we read “the will of my Father.” These terms are the same. Also in verse 39 we read “raise it up on the last day” and in verse 40 we read “raise him up on the last day.” Again we see that these terms are the same. In verse 39 we read “that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me.” Who are all those who have been given to Jesus from the Father that Jesus will never lose? Look at verse 40 for the parallel term: “Everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.” Who are the elect? Who are the ones who will not be lost? Jesus gave the answer. It is those who come to Jesus as their bread, their lasting satisfaction. They come to the Son, look on the Son, and believe. They come to him for who he is and enjoy him as the bread that endures to eternal life. Listen to those words: “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me.” Jesus will not lose you. Those who come to him will be preserved to the end and be raised to true life eternal.